Is “Home Church” A Real Alternative?

“I go to Bedside Baptist,” or “Church of the Holy Comforter,” if you’re of the Reformed or Catholic bent. Those jokes get some chuckles, especially if you add in that you enjoyed Pastor Pillow and Deacon Sheets. But, I think that’s what people think is really going on when someone says they “do church” at home. When you say it’s actually a real thing, then come the Homeschooling-type questions from concerned family and friends.

“What about socialization?” Oh, wait, that’s the question for when you say you homeschool. When it’s church, it goes like this: “What about fellowship?”

My response is, “Oh, you mean that awkward time before and after the show-uh, I mean service-where you make small-talk, smile and share some coffee and hope you know where your kids are?”

Or is it the market-driven small groups that mega churches have spawned to attempt to McDonalds the feeling of the early church by having people divided up into cliques and arrange meetings to study a trendy book that will TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE?

A deeper, and more telling remark might be, “What about doctrine?”

I’ll try not to spit my drink out while I laugh at that one. Oh, you mean the churches that have all manner of deviant heresy from infant baptism, which purports to save children from their sin with water from a priest’s ladle to those who prance around the stage waving their hands and knocking hypnotized people over? Or, maybe the health, wealth and prosperity false prophets? That will include folks who used to be somewhat solid like James MacDonald. We’ve got “mainstream” pastors who run the gamut of heresy, from denying the deity of Christ (Joel Osteen) to advocating universalism (Billy Graham).

Louie Giglio kissed the Pope on the face! Greg Laurie got cozy with Mel Gibson, affirming that “we all love you, Mel,” at a rally that allegedly had men coming forward for repentance and salvation. But, did Greg invite Mel to come and repent and make Jesus his Lord? Oh, wait, he’s good because he’s Catholic and made The Passion of the Christ. And he showed up as a celebrity to Greg’s shindig. Seems that some people like the big events and the celebrity recognition.

If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15

Of course, the answer would be that the local church is a place of sound teaching, solid doctrine and…

No. It isn’t. The local churches look up to these mega-stars. The seminaries (schools that charge money to make disciples–get a load of that!) are filled with young men who want to rise up to be the next Louie Giglio, Mark Driscol or Rob Bell.

Don’t read in what I’m not saying here. I’m not saying that everything these guys say is wrong. That’s never the case with Satan, either. The closer you stay to the truth, the better the lie.

Also, don’t read in that I think these guys are twirling their moustaches and rubbing their hands together behind closed doors, cackling an evil laugh at their masterful plot.

The road to Hell, and the service of the prince of this world is paved with the best of intentions. I think Joel Osteen really likes people. He likes that people give him all sorts of money to have a lavish lifestyle and I’m sure he sees that as God’s stamp of approval for his uber-positive message.

I’m sure all of these guys believe they are serving God. So did Saul of Tarsus (he became the Apostle Paul after his conversion). In fact, Jesus told us that people would kick us out of the synagogues and persecute us believing they were rendering service to God (John 16:2).

It’s clear to me that ‘fellowship’ is not really happening at a church anymore than it happens at a book club, bowling team or any other social venue. I’d venture to say that sports fans are a tighter knit group than most small groups in churches across America.

If anyone pays the slightest attention and has the least bit of fervor for the Word of God, they’d recognize that doctrine is not protected by the organizations known as churches anymore than it ever has been. There are certainly good folks out there that have fairly solid “doctrinal statements,” but it doesn’t mean they walk humbly with God. The Pharisees could point to a lot of good “doctrine,” too. But, they hated Jesus because they revolted from the truth.

Some will point to the fact that the pastors go to a seminary, they know Greek and Hebrew, they know the context of the Bible, and are equipped to teach it. Yeah, I suppose that’s why Jesus chose a bunch of fishermen to start His ecclesia? Oh, and Paul? He was highly trained, and it meant nothing. It availed him nothing. He was humbled and found himself going to the gentiles who had no regard for his pedigree. He even scoffs at his years of training and how he would never boast in it. His training was from Christ and the Spirit within him.

In John’s first epistle he warns his readers of the false teachers and that his readers do not need anyone to teach them. They don’t need the condescending wise to deliver the word because they have the Spirit’s anointing that will teach them (1 John 2:26-27).

And yet, that’s what we have. The enemy couldn’t stamp out the early church through persecution, so he made them friends. Constantine and the Roman Church perverted the church so that we no longer even recognize what the early church was.

I’m confident that Jesus would not be welcome in any church in America. Do you think Jesus would get past the book sale table and the coffee bar before throwing over some tables? And it’s not merely the presence of for sale items that is the issue–it’s the hearts of the people who see church as a platform.

In fact, they have that, too–right up front. Church in America is a performance of musicians and–hopefully–a gifted speaker, with coffee and books for sale afterward.

I suppose at this point, the person asking those questions of me will be crossing themselves or dabbing their fingers in holy water or repeating the prayer of Jabez to ward off the evil that I must be wearing.

The truth is, however, that those questions are the same as the Homeschooling questions. And they’re just as uninformed.

Let’s consider some facts: Homeschool students have higher scores on standardized tests and do better in college than their government school counterparts. Homeschool kids are better behaved than their government school peers.

Keep in mind, these are percentages, not ALL OF THEM. So, again, don’t read what I’m not saying.

I suspect the same will be true of home church kids. At this time, there is an epidemic of kids who leave the church and the faith upon leaving their parents home. This is why churches look more and more like those embarrassing parents who start acting like they’re teenagers again so they can be “hip” for their “cool cats.” Make that “kats.” It’s cooler. Hipper. It’s Kipper. Oh, wait, that was a children’s book. Lemme go rip some holes in my jeans, gel my hair and I’ll be right back.

The last objection to home churches is the idea that if you don’t “go to a church” you’ll be wandering out there without a compass, and you’ll end up in a cult, or just fall away from the faith!

That’s funny, too. Because the people who start doing home church are actually doing it because they’ve found that the so-called churches are wandering off into weird doctrine, dominating the congregation by the elite few, and, pretty much acting like a bunch of cults.

It’s normal for cults to say anything, make threats and imply that if you leave them your life will be over. That’s probably right in the cult handbook, or something.

I’d like to say, what are you afraid of? If I am devoted to Christ, am placing myself under His authority and seeking His will through careful study of His word, is His Spirit unable to keep me from error … at least at a similar level to that of these laughable denominations?

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7 Comments

  1. “I’m confident that Jesus would not be welcome in any church in America.” Really?! Jesus is not only welcome but manifestly present at the church I attend. Any He doesn’t mind associating with us sinners!

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  2. Heb 10:24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

    We are the body. If you cannot find unity with other believers, the problem may be with you. It’s not only what a church body can do for you; it’s what unity of believers can do to bring worship and honor to God Almighty.

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    1. Who says that those meeting in homes are not gathering together? And, more importantly, who says the people at the church buildings are believers? I suppose the problem was with John the Baptist since he left the priesthood and was out in the wilderness. I suppose the problem was with Elijah, since he didn’t fit in with the prophets and priests in Israel. You might think about what I’ve written, rather than trying to write me off with a verse taken out of context, or, at best, applied to a context the writer wouldn’t have had in mind.

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      1. Right!! That verse is one that is often used to go against home churches. The problem is, where does the rest of scripture play into our lives? You have to look at it as a whole. Unfortunately, we get regurgitated rhetoric spewed at us from church leaders that going to a building is THE only way. Last I checked, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life not a building that acts as a corporation. Unity with other believers can come in many forms and I rarely ever witnessed unity in a church setting unless you consider brown nosing and elitist cliques as unity. The reason most of us give up on going to church is because we seek a real relationship not some phony adaptation of it. Church is only in unity if you conform to the ideas as set by a group of people and join in the group think. Jesus came to bring us freedom from religion but today’s churches want to be like the Pharisees and put expectations on people that Christ never meant for us to carry. Instead of feeding the hungry on the Sabbath, we are chided for not obeying a rule that leaders want followed. Every day is an opportunity to serve and love others because God ordains our steps. Why must that be limited to a religious system in a building filled with people who just check off their list their good religious deed for the day? That’s simple minded, at best.

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    2. JB – Question for you–how often do you go into the world and preach the gospel on Sunday mornings? How about visiting orphans and widows? Visiting a person in jail? Giving money to the needy? I bet you rarely do that on Sundays. Who decided that going to a building every Sunday at the same time and place means “gathering with the assembly”? And who says that you can’t gather on other days besides when church meets? It’s pretty simplistic to say meeting with the assembly ONLY refers to Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights. And since when is “unity with other believers” something you only do in a church building? And how real is that?

      And correction–the body of Christ is Christians. Churches maybe have 20% Christians while the other 80% is influencing the churches leaders and wiggling their way in with false doctrine and manipulative pursuits that are anything but Christ like. The body of Christ is not limited to your small minded view of “people who attend church”. Instead, it’s anyone who has asked for forgiveness for their sins and have committed their life to loving Christ. Why limit your interactions to only the people that go to your church building when you can interact and learn/grow from the Christians that God puts in your path naturally?

      Also, it’s best not to assume that just because we don’t go to an institutional church that we have hurt feelings. I don’t think that comment is very God honoring or loving and assumes the problem lies with everyone else (typical church blame shifting).

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